Traveling is an activity that gives us the opportunity to get a dimensional experience of life, meeting new people, witnessing new weather, participating in a new culture, exposing our minds firsthand to newer facts and realities.

Traveling around the world is an experience I know everyone loves, a fulfilling experience at that.

As a matter of fact, some people make it an obligation to visit one, two or more countries on annual basis for the reason of fun, vacation or even learning, some make it a goal in life to visit about 20-30 countries of different continents in their lifetime.

Unfortunately for some, they are still looking forward to this rewarding experience.

There are just too many reasons why people travel. It could be for work, study, tourism just to name a few.

Now, it’s easy to book for any international trip. It is as simple as making your regular reservation for accommodation. However, there are materials needed for your international trip to pull through and one such item is a travel passport.

Your passport could be seen as your gateway to the world. I trust you’ve come across a passport for at least once in your life, some people have come across it but don’t recognize it as the passport in question; to some people anyway, this is totally new.

That’s exactly why we are here: to help deal with the confusion regarding passport book and card, their uses, the different types, their similarities, differences, how to obtain them, etc.

The Passport Book

A passport is an official government-issued document used as a means of identification.

It is usually in the form of a small book with a dimension of about 5’’ x 3.5’’ in its closed form, containing all the necessary information needed for an international trip.

The passport of various countries differ from one another in a unique standard, the same difference also applies to how the passports are being treated in various countries.

The passport book of the United States happens to be one of the best if not the best passport you can have at your disposal and that is due to the kind of relationship the United States government has established with most countries.

In essence, with the U.S passport, you can travel to almost anywhere in the world.

Due to this level of access and freedom offered by the U.S passport book, the world went as far as pronouncing that, a citizen of the United States is a citizen with divine favor and grace and looking at it from an honest and diplomatic standpoint, it’s definitely true!

The Passport Card

In addition to the U.S passport book, the government of the U.S has deemed it fit, to provide an alternative and more convenient, durable and easy-carry-along passport which is well known as a passport card.

The passport card is also an official government-issued document but has a dimension like that of a credit card.

The passport card, however, is not as privileged as the passport book. It is only used for travels on land and sea and furthermore used only within the scope of U.S, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean Islands.

Passport Card Vs. Book

Just as you already know, the U.S government issued two forms of travel passports to her citizens; the passport book and the passport card.

Some people may not be financially strong enough to acquire these two passports and they settle with one.

However, knowing the right one to settle with is often a challenge for most people and as such, some of them end up settling with the ones that just don’t fit the bill.

One of the ways to understand the right passport to go for is by analyzing your situation;

How often do I travel?

How far do I usually travel? Etc.

The answers to these questions lie with you and that is exactly why you’ll be able to help yourself with the right choice of passport.

I’ll be giving a clear and detailed comparison between the passport card vs. book. It is highly important you know their differences, similarities, prices, mode of usage and other whatnot so as to help you understand which one will be suitable in a given situation.

Similarities Between Passport Card and Book

Duration of Validity

Passport card and passport book last for a period of 10 years in the case of adults, for minors below the age of 16, they last for a period of 5 years.

Processing Time

Passports cards and passport books take up to 4-6 weeks for processing. If you want expedited processing, then it’ll only take 2 weeks.

Differences Between Passport Card and Book


A passport card looks like an ID card with a dimension similar to that of a credit card or we can also say it has the same dimension of an ID card also.

On the other hand, the passport book comes in the form of a small booklet.

It contains several pages for visa and immigration stamping, not only that; it also contains the passport details page which carries the holder’s crucial information such as name, date of birth, sex, address, passport expiry date just to name a few.

There are various sizes of passport books you can possibly get in terms of the number of pages, depending on how frequent you travel.

If you are a frequent traveler, I would advise you go for the passport book with enough pages to avoid the issue of running out of space thus, cramping your movement.


The passports card is only valid for domestic travel and international travel on land and sea (air travel not included).

The passport card is specifically valid for travels to Canada, Mexico, Bermuda, and the Caribbean territories (see more places below).

As for international travel by air, the passport card is not acceptable.

On the other hand, the passport book covers all forms of travel, be it international or domestic travel (land, sea, and air).


The size of the passport card is like that of a credit card while that of the passport book is 5’’ x 3.5’’ when in closed form.


On first time application for the passport card, adults are charged $65 and $50 for minors under 16.

In the case of the passport book, the first time application for adults is $145 and $115 for minors under 16.

Cost of Renewal

For the passport card, the cost of renewal for adults is $30 and that of minors under 16 is $15, while that of passport book is $110 for adults and $80 for minors under 16.

Global Recognition

The passport card is not a globally recognized travel document. However, in the case of the passport book, it is a globally recognized document.


The passport card’s usefulness is centered on those who live in border communities in the United States. For the passport book, its usefulness is centered mainly on international travel.


The passport card is by far more convenient and portable by virtue of its credit card-sized nature. It can easily be slipped into a wallet and off you go; surely secured.

In the case of the passport book, they are not always convenient to carry around and from my personal experience; people traveling with their passport book always stuff it in their backpack or even their suitcase.

There is a high risk of theft in the case of a passport book.

A Tabular Representation of The Differences & Similarities Between The U.S Passport Card vs. Book

For the reason of utmost clarity and understanding, I’ve taken my time to craft out a tabular representation of the United States passport card vs. book.

This table will give you a clearer picture of the differences and similarities between the U.S passport card vs. book. I’m pretty sure this will go a long way to enhance your understanding of the topic we’ve been discussing so far.

Passport card vs book

 A Full List of Countries and Territories Where The U.S Passport Card Is Valid:

  • Canada
  • Anguilla
  • Bermuda
  • Aruba
  • The Bahamas
  • Mexico(within the border zone)
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire; Sint Eustatius and Saba; Curaçao; Sint Maarten)
  • Dominica
  • Dominica Republic
  • Grenada
  • Jamaica
  • Cayman Islands
  • Montserrat
  • Antigua And Barbuda
  • Saint Kitts And Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

How to Obtain a Passport Card or Book

It might interest you to know that obtaining a passport is relatively simple especially with the right guidance which I’ll be giving to you.

First I would like you to understand that there are two situations here in the course of applying for a passport; a situation where you’ve never applied for a passport, and a case where you’re seeking renewal or replacement for a lost copy.

If you are applying for a passport for the first time, then you will have to go through the new passport process. On the other hand, if you have owned a passport initially, you’ll just have to apply for renewal.

Furthermore, applying for a passport calls for some requirements which include two passport photographs, proof of citizenship (U.S citizen), means of identity and the required fee.

So if it’s your first time applying for a passport book or passport card, you’ll have to go in-person to a passport application office or a website like The U.S Department of State or this page. These links can also serve as an avenue to renew your passports.

It is highly critical to understand some basic requirements of the passport photograph you are to submit. Wearing glasses, cap or hats on your passport is not acceptable except for medical reasons for which a statement has to be signed by you and your doctor.

If you are covering your head for religious reasons, you will also need to sign a statement. For a more detailed passport photograph requirement, visit this page.

This is by far the necessary information you need to know concerning the passport card vs. book.

At this point, you should already know which kind of passport you should have in your possession whenever you are planning a trip.

However, I would recommend you acquire both a passport card and book as you may not be able to predict which of the documents you might need in the event of an unexpected trip.